England v New Zealand: Front-row crisis as Alex Corbisiero is ruled out of Twickenham showdown with All Blacks

Knee trouble sees loose-head prop join fellow front-rowers Mako Vunipola and Joe Marler on the casualty list

England's chances of turning the rugby world upside down for the second time in a year by beating the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday suffered a bitter blow when the loose-head prop Alex Corbisiero dropped out with knee trouble.

The Northampton player, one of the most accomplished scrummagers in the game, joins a second British and Irish Lions Test front-rower, Mako Vunipola, on the casualty list and with the third-string No 1 Joe Marler suffering from concussion, the national team was teetering on the edge of an injury crisis.

Marler may yet face the Kiwis: the Harlequins player is working his way through the standard medical protocols with a view to training fully on Thursday. But if there is any slippage in his recovery, England's staff will withdraw him from selection. That would leave the inexperienced Matt Mullan as the only fit loose-head specialist in the party.

As things stand, Mullan is assured of a place on the bench at the very least, almost four years after winning his one and only full cap in a Six Nations match against Italy. He has performed at a high level since moving from Worcester to Wasps at the end of last season and Graham Rowntree, the England forwards coach, expressed full confidence in him. Asked if he would be happy to see Mullan start this "vengeance match" against the world champions, who went down to a record defeat at Twickenham last year, he replied: "Absolutely. That's why he's here."

For all that, Corbisiero's latest orthopaedic breakdown is a serious setback. The 25-year-old has a long history of knee problems and his training regime is restricted as a result, but he remains an outstanding front-row forward, as he proved when he scrummaged the British and Irish Lions to victory over Australia in Sydney last July.

There was more bad news for the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, when Marland Yarde, the promising London Irish wing, dropped out of contention for a return to the starting line-up. His hip injury, allied to Christian Wade's continuing hamstring issues, means the much-criticised Chris Ashton and Ben Foden will keep their places in the back division.

As if this were not enough, Lancaster learnt that the Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi, who made such a dynamic contribution to beating the All Blacks last December, may miss the entire 2014 Six Nations tournament. Tuilagi tore a pectoral muscle and was hoping the injury would heal without surgery, thereby allowing him to resume before Christmas. It emerged that he went under the knife earlier this week and was now looking at another three months of enforced inactivity.

 

 

Get Adobe Flash player

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea